Risk: confident or complacent?

Ivan Carette and Chris Swecker

A panel of risk experts gave their reaction to the publication of the fifth global risk management survey report undertaken by SAS and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report suggests that while lessons have been learned, some institutions may be sliding into complacency. At any rate, risk appetites are growing in many quarters, as companies feel pressure to expand profits.

Moreover, in the new business environment there are new risks. Throughout his career Chris Swecker has been focused on fighting crime, and in particular fraud, as Executive Assistant Director at the FBI and as Global Security Director at the Bank of America. He now runs his own company, advising companies on risk and fraud. Speaking at The Premier Business Leadership Series press conference in Antwerp today, Chris pointed out that, while internet banking has brought fantastic benefits, it is a bit like giving the keys to a Ferrari to a 16-year old. “Most retail bank customers have no idea of the risks,” he said.

Banks have had to learn to accept that fraud losses are a part of their business. Criminals are always one jump ahead, and often out of reach of the law. “Hierarchical organized crime families have given way to flat networked organizations that are difficult to trace,” Chris said.

Ivan Carette of BNP Paribas Fortis said that financial institutions need to implement analytical systems that give an integrated view of all kinds of risk: operational, credit, market and fraud.

Welcoming regulations that bring stability to the market while enabling individual firms to demonstrate their solubility, Bill Hayward of Barclays said that risk is getting more and more complex and that silos need to be broken down.

Chris Swecker agreed – drawing a parallel with the intelligence failures that led to 911. “We had a lot of information but we didn’t put it together.

“It’s the same in risk. Data is our greatest asset so long as it is not siloed.”


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